Chadwick v British Railways Board: 1967

Mr Chadwick tried to bring relief and comfort to the victims of the Lewisham train disaster in December 1967. His widow claimed in nervous shock, saying that it had eventually led to his own death.
Held: Where an accident is of a particular horrifying kind and the rescuer is involved with the victims in the immediate aftermath it may be reasonably foreseeable that the rescuer will suffer psychiatric injury. Mr Chadwick suffered his injury because of the terrible impact on his mind of the suffering he witnessed in his rescue attempt, and not because of any fear for his own safety: ‘although there was clearly an element of personal danger in what Mr Chadwick was doing, I think that I must deal with this case on the basis that it was the horror of the whole experience which caused his reaction.’ His widow was entitled to damages.
Waller J said: ‘The community is not formed of normal citizens, with all those who are less susceptible or more susceptible to stress to be regarded as extraordinary. There is an infinite variety of creatures, all with varying susceptibilities.’


Waller J


[1967] 1 WLR 912, [1967] 2 All ER 945


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedNorth Glamorgan NHS Trust v Walters CA 6-Dec-2002
A new mother woke in hospital to see her baby (E) fitting. E suffered a major epileptic seizure leading to coma and irreparable brain damage. E was transferred to a London hospital and the following day the claimant was told by a consultant that E’s . .
CitedWhite, Frost and others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire and others HL 3-Dec-1998
No damages for Psychiatric Harm Alone
The House considered claims by police officers who had suffered psychiatric injury after tending the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy.
Held: The general rules restricting the recovery of damages for pure psychiatric harm applied to the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Damages

Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.183347